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Little-known Truckers Group Demands R25 000 Pay, Threatens ‘National Shutdown’ From April 30

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A group of disgruntled local truck drivers, little-known SA Truck Drivers, say they will embark on a ‘national shutdown’ on 30 April 2023, for wide-ranging demands including a minimum wage of R25 000.

A note circulated on social media by the group called for the scrapping of labour brokers; a basic salary of R25,000 per month; that there be no cabin cameras; and no employment of foreigners in the industry, among other demands.

The gazetted code 14 truck drivers’ minimum wage is currently R14 384,52.

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The group said its demands and the strike are supported by the All Truck Drivers Forum and Allied SA (ATDF-ASA), which has been behind a number of protests in the sector.

During such actions, drivers blocked freeways with their trucks. The disgruntled group said the planned national protest will start on April 30 and continue until their demands are met.

The strike could hurt the struggling economy and destabilise supply chains — already taking a strain from the country’s dilapidated rail network — as billions of rand worth of goods are transported through critical corridors, which include the busy Johannesburg to Durban N3 route.

Read | ATDF-ASA Breaks Tradition, Calls For Truck Drivers To work On Planned Shutdown Day

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The country’s freeways have to contend with increased traffic volumes as a result of bulk commodity exporters transferring freight from rail to road due to rail infrastructure being crippled by vandalism, poor maintenance and cable theft, costing bulk commodity exporters billions of rand in lost revenue.

Gavin Kelly, CEO of the Road Freight Association (RFA), which represents employers in the road and freight logistics sector, said truck operators were “tired” of the protests in the sector as it was mostly compliant operators that bear the brunt.

Kelly said if the logistics supply chain was disrupted, “it’s billions of rand we lose in a day, and we don’t know what sort of violence would erupt”.

The police would have to keep a close eye to thwart any possible repeat of the violence experienced in previous protests in the sector.

Kelly would not say what contingency measures would be implemented as that would “play into their hands”.

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Truckers Association of SA president Mary Phadi told Business Day that the ATDF-ASA was behind the planned national shutdown. “They confirmed there will be a strike.”

The tension between foreign and SA truck drivers has been brewing since 2018, with the latter accusing the former of “stealing” their jobs.

This led to scores of foreign truck drivers being attacked and their trucks torched on the N3 and N2 highways.

Police minister Bheki Cele said the attacks, which cost the economy about R2bn and claimed more than 200 lives, constituted economic sabotage and would not be tolerated.

In July 2020, about 1,500 local truck drivers embarked on a national protest, claiming their employers preferred to employ foreigners as they could exploit them through lower wages. Four months later, President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed a team of ministers to look into the torching of trucks in the sector.

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